Master Teaching Fellows' Bios

Brezhnev Batres has been teaching high-school biology in Chicago for seven years, and for the past five years at a neighborhood public school. Serving as department chair, biology team leader, and RTI coordinator, Brezhnev is committed to science education and to developing students’ science skills and social-emotional competencies through relevant case studies and meaningful real-world examples. Brezhnev has worked diligently with students in after-school activities, most notably science fair projects, having multiple students in several years presenting at Illinois State Science Fairs. Brezhnev has also served as a Biology teacher and science chair at a Chicago charter school.

Phil Cantor started teaching science in the Chicago Public Schools in 2003 after completing the Golden Apple Foundation Teacher Education (GATE) Science Inquiry program at Northwestern University. As a member of the leadership of Teachers for Social Justice, he has worked to promote culturally-relevant curriculum and social-justice teaching in Chicago. Phil is committed to helping students take a critical view of the world in which they live and use scientific thinking to analyze and solve the problems they see around them.

Mindy Chappell is a third year Ella Baker Trainer with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools program. A native of East Saint Louis, Illinois, she currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. She has devoted her life to serving young people through education and advocacy on their behalf. She obtained a BS Chemistry degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2007 and a MEd Science Education degree in 2011. She currently serves as a science teacher in Chicago Public Schools. She is a National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Scholar and a national spokeswoman for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is also a member of the American Chemistry Society. In the summer of 2011, Mindy was given the opportunity to work with a local CDF Freedom School in Chicago and has been a part of the movement ever since. Her life aspiration is to found a privately funded, student-learning driven, culturally relevant, technologically innovative, college and career preparatory school named Le Chappell Math, Science, & Performing Arts Academy in her hometown.

Tiffany Childress Price has been teaching on the west side of Chicago for 10 years. She is a national board certified (Chemistry) teacher and is passionate about students developing a love for and mastery of science skills and concepts. She considers herself successful in the classroom if students can apply concepts from the classroom to everyday life--able to explain how human blood is able to stay at a healthy pH of 7 even when we drink very acidic soft drinks to how an alkaline substance like sodium hydroxide can transform tightly curled hair to very straight hair. Tiffany’s pedagogy is rooted in student and community experience. She also works as a certified Kingian Nonviolence trainer and works with the school’s Peace Warriors to maintain a peaceful, college going culture.

Darrin Collins is a fifth year Science Teacher. Darrin completed the Academy of Urban School Leadership’s (AUSL) Teacher Residency Program, where he simultaneously worked as a Resident Teacher at Orr Academy High School and earned his Master of Arts in Teaching. After the residency Darrin assumed a position at Phillips Academy High School. He taught A.P. Environmental Science, College Preparatory Environmental Science, and Biology at Phillips. Post-Masters, Darrin has continued to perform Action Research on his work in the classroom. He has presented his work at several national science conferences including the National Science Teacher’s of America Annual Conference and the Northwestern’s 7th Annual STEM Summit. Darrin’s focus is on the use of phenomena and modeling as discussion techniques in the science classroom. Darrin has now transitioned to Kenwood Academy High School, where he will continue teaching Environmental Science and Biology.

Nina Hike is entering her 20th year as a science teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. She has been a leader in city science education initiatives throughout her tenure, and seeks to create lessons that are engaging and standards aligned. Nina has worked with students from elementary to high school grades in regular and enrichment science classes, sharing with them her love of science. Her work has been presented at various conferences and most recently she has authored, with Dr. Beck-Winchatz, an article that was published in the National Science Teachers Association journal The Science Teacher, entitled Near-Space Science: A Ballooning Project to Engage students with Space Beyond The Big Screen.

Jorge Santana is a thirteen year veteran science teacher with CPS. He currently teaches both Chemistry and Biology, the latter of which he has taught at all levels, including Advanced Placement and in Bilingual education. Jorge served as Department Chairperson for Science for nine years and has served both on the ILT and LSC for Roosevelt High School. For nine years Jorge served the Albany Park community through martial arts instruction afterschool at Roosevelt. Students from six different schools, including elementary high school and college attended these classes. Jorge led workshops on speaking to students about drugs, and martial arts instruction at Best Practices Institutes and led many Professional development Workshops on various aspects of curriculum design and planning. He earned a B.S. in Biochemistry, graduating with honors from UIC and an M.A.T. From National-Louis University.

Leigha Ingham has been teaching in the Chicago Public School system for eight years. Her love for science and urban youth education is what brought her to the Chicago Public School system after obtaining her undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Spelman College and her masters degree in Science Education from New York University. Leigha is passionate about designing science curricula that not only engages students, but prepares them for a world that is vastly changing due to the implementation of technology.

Kathleen Tysiak is entering her 9th year of teaching science; her sixth teaching Biology at George Westinghouse College Prep. Over the last four years, Kathleen has pioneered the AP Biology program at GWCP and has served multiple leadership roles, including department chairperson and instructional leadership team member. Kathleen enjoys sharing her passion for the sciences with her students and cultivating curious, inquisitive, and active learners while helping them develop scientific thinking skills. Additionally, Kathleen is committed to providing high quality professional support to new and transitioning teachers at her school and to all science teachers throughout the district. Kathleen has led district-wide PD through CPS and as a Yale National Fellow while also mentoring teachers within her own school. Kathleen looks forward to learning more about her practice through research and interactions with a strong community of teachers and the implications it will have for her students and the students of Chicago.

A National Board Certified Teacher, Johan Tabora is entering his 13th year as a physics teacher with the Chicago Public Schools. He has taught physics, robotics, rocketry, sustainable development, and urban agriculture and has implemented model-based physics curricula with an emphasis on discourse and proportional reasoning. He is also the head coach of a FIRST Robotics Competition team, a position he’s held for the past three years. Through his teaching experiences and his reflective practice, he has tinkered with a curriculum rooted in equitable discourse around ideas in science, authentic assessments, and student-centered learning. He learned that this allows physics to be more accessible to students of color and young women - two populations traditionally underrepresented in the field of physics. He hopes to forge more paths for these and all students through his continued work in urban science education.